Baking Soda to the Rescue … Again

Now, I want to go on record as being a firm believer in evidence-based, traditional medicine. I believe in large-scale, multi-center, randomized clinical trials … staked my life on it once, and I’m still here to tell of it.

I also believe that there are home remedies that work, and I’m also a firm believer in using what works.

Several times over the last few years, I’ve been stung by wasps. Fortunately, I was in my own yard, and immediately made my way to the kitchen.

I mixed a bit of baking soda with water to make a paste, and applied the paste right to the sting spot. I left the paste on the sting area for about 10 minutes. Then I rinsed it off.

The stinging sensation was gone, and there was only a small red spot where the stinger had pierced the skin.

Powerful magic, that baking soda.

Sometimes, not frequently, I use it to brush my teeth. It’s a good abrasive, but my teeth are a bit sensitive, so I don’t push it with overuse.

The other day, I noticed a very irritating sore right on the end of my tongue. I couldn’t even see anything, but doggone I sure could feel it. Eating was downright painful … you just don’t realize how much you use the end of your tongue to move food around. After suffering a few days, and wondering why this thing wasn’t going away, I decided to try some things. Peroxide on a swab … nope, not much help. Listerine on a swab … sorry, try again. I decided to not use toothpaste last night (something I read said that the detergents in toothpaste can irritate any mouth sores) as I brushed my teeth. My mental light bulb went off and I decided to make that magic baking soda paste and pack it over the sore on my tongue while I was brushing. Then I rinsed it all out upon completion.

Lo and behold, when I awoke this morning, the sore was almost completely gone. About 80% gone … just a little tiny bit sore still.

I can’t attest to any other magical cures, like curing cancer (personally, I opted for more conventional treatments there, myself), but if my anecdote is worth at least as much as they next person’s, then next time you get a bee sting (for those who are NOT allergic to bees) or mouth sore, do give the baking soda treatment a try.

The Cost of eBooks from a Self-Publisher’s Perspective

I don’t intend to do too much retweeting/linking to other people’s work, but this is a very interesting and even eye-opening piece on ebook pricing.

The Cost of eBooks from a Self-Publisher’s Perspective.

Fast, yummy egg sandwich

I literally did not eat eggs as a food until a couple of years ago, when some medication I was taking changed how foods tasted to me and I needed some alternative protein sources to get me through the experience. Once I started eating eggs, and well past the medication days, I’ve stuck with the little clucker gems, and today I wanted to share with you my favorite alternative weekend lunch, an easy, fast egg sandwich.

The trick to this sandwich is using a spice blend to add a tremendous amount of flavor easily. In the US, Mrs. Dash makes several varieties of spice blends, and all do a fantastic job of spicing things up. Trader Joes has a very similar 21-Season Salute that works great. And McCormick’s Spices has a number of spice blends in grinder bottles, for a more fresh-ground flavor. It’s good to have several different blends handy, so you can have a different taste profile from one time to the next.

Materials:

  • 1 large egg (I like farm fresh eggs, preferably organic, but I’ll go with local non-organic that I know are fresh over weeks-old organic ones in the store)
  • Your favorite spice blend
  • 1 slice of your favorite cheese
  • 1 slice of a hearty bread (I like Trader Joe’s pane, but any freshly baked bread, even from the grocery store bakery, will work)
  • Fork
  • Glass bowl
  • Paper plate
  • Toaster
  • Microwave

Procedure:

  1. Cut the bread slice in half, and put into the toaster. You’ll prep the rest as the bread is toasting.
  2. Crack the egg and place the contents in the glass bowl. Mix up thoroughly with fork.
  3. Remove your cheese from the refrigerator if that’s where it is, so it can warm up a bit while the bread is toasting.
  4. Sprinkle the spice blend over the surface of the mixed egg, so that the whole surface is lightly sprinkled with spice blend. Handle carefully after this, or the spice blend will tend to glom up into clumps.
  5. When there are about 2 minutes remaining on the toast operation, place the egg / bowl into the microwave. (Most toaster ovens take about 7 minutes to lightly toast a slice of bread … actual toasters are faster though.)
  6. Cover bowl with a paper plate.
  7. Cook on power level 9 for about 1 minute 20 seconds (this is right for ~1000-watt microwave).
  8. When the toast is done, remove from the toaster.
  9. Compose the sandwich by placing your cheese on the hot bread to make it melty, then place the hot egg onto the cheese, and the other half of the bread on top of that.

Enjoy. It’s quite yummy.

If you’re a guy, you’ll probably want to double all portions  🙂

Apple’s latest delusional statements

It’s obvious that Apple thinks that a large portion of the world is not very bright. But do they think that EVERYONE is an idiot?

I almost choked when I saw today that they are claiming that they were forced to collude with the book manufacturers in order to be able to compete with big bad Amazon. Seriously? Seriously? Apple is over 7x the market cap of Amazon. If they wanted to compete, all they had to do was LOWER their book prices like Amazon did. Only Apple could construe collusion to keep prices artificially high as fostering competition.

And what good did their collusion do for anyone who doesn’t choose to get sucked into their inbred ecosystem? Um, none. I have a Nook. Their entry into the bookselling game did me no good. All their price-fixing agreement with book publishers did was inflate the prices of books that EVERYONE buys, including me, people with Sony readers, Kobo readers, Kindles, and anything other than an Apple product.

They’re so full of crapple. They’ve been treated with kid gloves for too long. Its time that they learn to live by the rules that everyone else lives by. Want to sell more product? Lower your prices. Stop breaking the law and looking for some kind of sanction on it.

I wonder if their lawyers show up in court wearing black knit shirts, grinning and nodding as they peddle their crapspeak bs to the court.

Money-wicking athletic wear

There’s a big US company that markets its athletic wear, at amazingly high prices, as being “heat wicking” or some such nonsense. The gist of their very effective marketing campaign, besides getting many professional sports teams to wear their gear, is that the moisture wicking nature of the completely synthetic materials is supposed to magically make you cooler when it’s hot and you’re sweating.

Well, um, no. Wicking doesn’t make you cool. It just makes you dry. If you don’t believe me, get all hot and sweaty, then dry your face. Does it feel cooler? I’m going to bet, no.

The best place for moisture-wicking material is places where moisture causes a problem, but provides little benefit. Diapers, for example. Or feet, for example. Wet feet rub excessively, the moisture softens the skin, soft skin rubbing makes blisters faster. So, moisture wicking socks = good thing. Hikers have known this for years. Wear soft cotton socks, get blisters. Wear polypro liners and wool socks. Walk all day without blisters.

But moisture wicking in your t-shirts and your shorts? Well, that’s not only not effective at cooling you, it’s counter-productive.

What cools you is the natural mechanism of perspiration > evaporation. The body produces perspiration as a method of cooling your surface temperature. Notice how you get flushed when you’re overheating? Your body opens the capillaries so that your blood collects at the surface; it makes you perspire so that the evaporating perspiration cools your blood which cools YOU. Boom. Now remove that perspiration, and your body is just as hot, but now dry … and needs to make more perspiration to cool you.

Look at the clothing worn by people who live in perpetually hot climates, such as the desert. The clothes tend to be natural, breathable fabrics cut to fit loosely. Not skin-tight and synthetic. The air flow achieved with loose fitting garments is going to increase evaporation, which increases cooling. These people have been living in, and successfully dealing with these hot climates for millennia. They’re not in it for a big house in Worthington Valley. They’re in it because it’s how they survive in a harsh climate.

So next time you are enticed by some “heat gear,” well, go ahead and buy it if you like. But realize you’re paying for marketing and hype.

Or, be smart … buy something loose and comfortable at 1/3 of the cost. Your body will appreciate it more.

 

Facebook and Instagram

Some are actually suggesting that Facebook is acquiring Instagram so that they can data-mine the geotagged locations, as well as the content, of users photos. How cynical. WE know that Facebook in its infinite goodness is only looking to enhance the user experience by better targeting its offers and services to our interests.

Shake shake shake (repeat), Shake your sports drink (repeat)

Homemade Sports Drink

A couple of years ago, I got one of those GI bugs and was pretty miserable for a few days. I decided to be kind to my digestive system by giving up cola (I’d typically drink 2 per day, non diet) because of all the sugar in it, as a way of helping my digestive system get back to a “happy” place.

Funny thing is, I found when I was feeling better and went to drink a cola, it seemed so egregiously sweet to me, I couldn’t stand to drink it. Instead, I switched to a somewhat less sweet alternative, Gatorade.

Fast forward another couple of years, and sadly I developed some much more serious medical problems. Thankfully I made it through those too. However, as a way to deal with the shock of that serious illness, I re-evaluated my approach to food and drink.

One choice I made was to eat as much organic food as possible. Another was to avoid processed foods as much as possible. Nothing off the deep end here. Just goals … and determination … to eat and drink better quality food. I’m not here to sell this approach to you. If you look at Gatorade and you think that looks like a good idea to put into your body, that’s okee dokee smokee with me.

If, on the other hand, you like more natural alternatives to that oddly colored beverage, but enjoy the flavor of it, then I think maybe you’ll like my more natural sports drink.

Materials:

  • 20 oz. bottle
  • tap water (I like to filter mine, just to remove some of the chlorine smell/taste)
  • 1/2 lemon (can substitute a True Lemon packet)
  • 1/2 lime (can substitute a True Lime packet)
  • table salt
  • sugar (I personally like turbinado sugar because it is less refined than the white stuff, and retains some trace minerals)

Procedure:

  1. Fill the 20 oz bottle with water — just a bit short of full.
  2. Wash the lemon. Squeeze in juice of 1/2 of a lemon. If organic and you like a bit more zing, you can micro-grate some zest into the bottle too.
  3. Wash the lime. Squeeze in juice of 1/2 of a lime. Like the lemon, if it’s organic and you want to, go ahead and add some lime zest into the bottle. (If you cannot get fresh lemons/limes, I find True Lemon / Lime to be an excellent substitute. It’s available online or at many major US grocery stores, usually near baking supplies.)
  4. Add a rounded 1/8 tsp of salt. If you want to increase the potassium content of your homemade sports drink, substitute a scant 1/4 tsp of Morton Lite Salt. (This boosts the electrolyte content a little.)
  5. Add 1 tbs and 1/4 tsp of the sugar. If this is not sweet enough, I originally started with 1 tbs + 1 tsp of sugar, but have gradually lowered the amount to the current 1 tbs + 1/4 tsp of sugar.
  6. Shake until all solids have dissolved.

One advantage of real lemons and limes is you can leave the pulp from squeezing in for a bit of added fiber.

The taste isn’t exactly Gatorade, but it’s good, and to me, going back to Gatorade makes my face pucker. Even though it has about 3-4 times as much sugar as this homemade alternative.

5 Handy Tablet Tips

Here are 5 handy tips for tablet users.

  1. Hate screen smudges and fingerprints? Me too. To clean the screen easily and without a separate cloth, use the side of your hand (under your pinkie finger) as a squeegee. Drag it across the screen horizontally in rows (like mowing a lawn), then turn the screen to the other orientation and repeat the squeegee process. That part of your hand has very little in the way of skin oil, and the screen looks cleaner, faster, than using an actual microfiber cloth. (If you prefer a cloth, you can buy one of those small eyeglass-cleaning microfibers from the optical dept of large discount stores.)
  2. Battery longevity: Many laptops have a battery-saving protocol that most people never discover or utilize. Part of the process is to initiate a recharge before the remaining charge reaches 20%, and to only recharge up to about 85%. To prolong the longevity of your tablet battery, follow this process yourself.
  3. Free Apps: Recent tests have shown that the free versions of apps are often the main drainers of battery. Tracking your whereabouts, fetching and running all those ads are pounding your wifi/data. If the paid versions of the apps are low cost (and many of them are only about $1 US), and if it seems like you’re always charging your battery, try installing the paid app versions.
  4. Screen Brightness: Another big battery user, usually the biggest, is the screen. If your screen does not automatically adjust to ambient light, try out an app called QuickProfiles (or search for one like it, if you prefer). It can be set up to switch screen brightness, radios (wifi, bluetooth, airplane mode, etc.) with just a tap. Other similar apps can be configured to do this automatically. Screen brightness can be turned way down once the sun sets, and I personally have tested tablets from major manufacturers that do not turn off wifi when they are put into sleep, so setting your tablet to airplane mode might save you some juice.
  5. Wifi vs 3G/4G … Pay-as-You-Go: I decided to get the wifi version of my Xoom tablet because I refuse to be tied to a contract for mobile service. But some folks feel that they need the connectivity of the 3G/4G equipped tablets in case they are not near a wifi hotspot. Well, I picked up a 3G Mifi broadband wifi hotspot for about $65 US, and I can use it to get 3G internet on a pay-as-you-go basis. I’ve been testing it the past month and it’s worked wonderfully well. So I have 3G data with my tablet when I need it, and only when I need it. Think about a solution like this if you know you will not be needing 3G with your tablet on a continual basis. (I can also use if with my laptop, or any other mobile device, something that might not be possible with a tablet with built-in 3G/4G.) Another option, if you already have a 3G/4G-equipped tabled, is to buy a sim card from a third party broadband provider (there are several) instead of one of the major carriers, and pay-as-you-go with them rather than getting bogged down by an expensive contract.

Blue, blue, my blog is blue

I bet that, now that I have pointed it out to you, you can see that my blog is blue.

I bet also that few of you want to know why.

But on the internets, we’re all clueless at reading social clues, so I’ll tell ya why my blog is blue.

I’m sick of the vast pages of white desolation that the big Goog has made into “THE look.” Now, reading my email, my calendar, my contacts list, and my RSS reader are like being in a blizzard in white-out conditions. I must suppress the urge to kill a tonton and burrow in its entrails as I peruse my Gmail.

Honestly, did they fly these austere designs past any focus groups with retinas from … oh, say, pre-1990? Just wonderin’.

Until they gave us back a few high contrast options, I honestly couldn’t tell read stories from unread ones in my news feed.

Still, all fads (and, alas, all things) pass, and I count the days until this one does too. And I awaken to an online world where colored is cool.